A bid to kick-start a China-backed trade pact that would cover a third of the global economy is facing a fresh hurdle as upcoming elections across Asia and the Pacific threaten to stall progress on reaching a deal.
With fallout from trade ructions between U.S. and China endangering global growth, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, is seen as a vital shot in the arm for a string of regional economies. Yet, as talks resume on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali there are already fresh concerns about the impact of upcoming elections in Australia, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
Those elections, as well as polls in New Zealand in 2020, raise questions about prospects for reaching an agreement on the 16-nation pact anytime soon. A change in government in any of the nations involved could further disrupt the talks, which already face numerous stumbling blocks with a long list of chapters yet to be concluded. The latest meeting resumed in Bali this week.